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Seven days a week opening bombshell for GP surgeries
10:00am Saturday 12th October 2013 in News
OPENING doctors surgeries seven days a week could ease the pressure on emergency admissions in hospital, officials say.
Oxfordshire is missing the target for the number of emergency admissions to hospital for older people aged 60 and over, with 7,447 patients admitted from April to July – which is 175 admissions more than hoped for.
At a meeting of the county council’s adult health and social care partnership board on Thursday, chairman Judith Heathcoat said extending GP opening hours could be the answer to easing the pressure on A&E.
Ms Heathcoat, a county councillor, said: “I believe that some of the demand going into A&E is because people are not getting to their GPs at weekends.
“I feel sorry for the medics at A&E. They are getting stuff that is quite lightweight.”
In new proposals unveiled by Prime Minister David Cameron earlier this month, GPs will be asked to open seven days a week for up to 12 hours.
The plan aims to make it easier for people to access surgeries, many of which mostly open during working hours between Monday and Friday.
But GP representatives say they are already taking steps to help more patients with seven-days-a-week health units.
Dr Barbara Batty, from the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “I think everybody in the system is working to try to find a solution.
“Certainly from a GP’s point of view, there is a real awareness.
“The emergency multidisciplinary unit in Abingdon is doing really well.
“There is ongoing work to try and get this to be as productive as possible.”
Emergency multidisciplinary units – or EMUs – act as a halfway-house between GPs and hospital A&E departments.
They treat serious medical emergencies, except heart attacks and strokes.
The unit in Abingdon was set up in 2010 and more units are set for Witney, Banbury and Oxford.
Dr Batty said: “In Oxfordshire, I think we have a good out-of-hours service and also I think most of the GP surgeries run extended hours.
“These, from personal experience, tend not to be well attended.
“I think first of all if you are going to look at seven-days-a-week opening, I think it is important that patients feel it is the solution and that is why you will go to A&E rather than out of hours or 111, the non-emergency number.
“I think that the emergency multidisciplinary approach over a period of time will make a big difference.”
Ms Heathcoat said: “I think if we are doing Saturday surgeries, it is going to take time for people to change.”
But councillor Anna Badcock said: “In my experience, with children, when they get sick, it is not on a Saturday morning.”
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